Advice for use Mac Mini for Home theater

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I'm thinking about buying a Mini and an external hard drive to add to my home theater setup. My plan is to use Handbrake to store DVDs on my Mini and its external drive in addition to music. Then run my Mini through my rear projection 42 inch tv. Anyone have any thoughts on potential problems? I just like the idea of storing my DVDs on a hard drive and accessing my movies and music on my tv with front row. I'd consider buying a bluetooth keyboard, but I suspect computing on a rear projection tv would be less than desirable. Thoughts and suggestions?
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 34
    Does your TV has VGA/DVI/HDMI input? If not, you will have a problem. There is no good way to convert to a composite output. If the TV only have HDMI out of the three, you might be in for an hour or two with DisplayConfigX. I have never done DVI to HDMI on a mac, but it is a pain on the PC to get it right.



    Otherwise you will be set! I am trying to do this over my network streaming through Tivo's but there is a major bottleneck requiring a huge buffer on a GigE network .
  • Reply 2 of 34
    erm... apple also provide a S-Vhs adaptor dont they, so that would work
  • Reply 3 of 34
    pbpb Posts: 4,233member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by gdconway

    I just like the idea of storing my DVDs on a hard drive and accessing my movies and music on my tv with front row.



    I am not sure if Front Row can play DVDs stored on the hard drive. Anyone tried?
  • Reply 4 of 34
    Drag the handbrake compressed DVD's into iTunes then use Videos in Front Row to view the movies.



    Ideally you will have the iTunes library on the external drive, after you drag the movie into iTunes you will need to change the ID tag of the file to Movie.



    This method works a treat!
  • Reply 5 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Trendannoyer

    erm... apple also provide a S-Vhs adaptor dont they, so that would work



    I take it you mean s-video. I have that. The quality isn't good at all. You need to keep it digital, otherwise you are wasting you time.
  • Reply 6 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Funny, most of the TVs in use still have coax or audio/video RCA jack input... S-video is a step up for them. Oh noes!11!!! How do they stand it?!?
  • Reply 7 of 34
    Most of the newer high end plasma's have DVI-D inputs. Most of the newer plasma's and high end LCD's have HDMI inputs. Older high end plasma's usually have VGA input.



    Scan conversion drastically degrades quality in most situations. While watching a movie it wouldn't be TERRIBLE (not good though), but when you are viewing anything with fonts, icons, buttons, etc. you are are not going to like it.



    If any has any experience with a Mac Mini and DVI -> HDMI, please PM or email me I would like to know how it worked out. I have done it with PC's but not with Mac's.



    -Justin
  • Reply 8 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    Funny, most of the TVs in use still have coax or audio/video RCA jack input... S-video is a step up for them. Oh noes!11!!! How do they stand it?!?



    Most people that would spend $799 on a macmini, plus $900 for a firewire drive (1TB, a minimum for someone interesting is going all digital) is going to have a high end TV.
  • Reply 9 of 34
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jpennington

    Most of the newer high end plasma's have DVI-D inputs.



    Yeah, well, it just so happens that the Mac min is a low-end computer, not a high-end one.



    Quote:

    If any has any experience with a Mac Mini and DVI -> HDMI, please PM or email me I would like to know how it worked out. I have done it with PC's but not with Mac's.



    Or, you could read one of the dozens of reports on connecting a Mac mini to a digital TV. Your favorite search engine will help you.



    Finally, please work on your use of apostrophes.
  • Reply 10 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    The conversion to analog is generally less important in my experience than the resolution setting. I've used a straight component connection (non S-video, single RCA jack) setup from a PowerBook to a 1981 Sanyo TV*, and as long as it was kept at 1024x768 or below, it was workable for computing. Not *pleasant*, but workable. Certainly enough to navigate apps to run various media.



    My reading of the original post was that he was looking for a multi-media/Front Row solution, and *not* a general purpose computing environment.



    For that, S-video would be fine. Heck, RCA jacks would be fine.



    All digital is of course preferred, but I think telling him that unless he goes all digital he's 'wasting his time' was a bit over the top.





    *Actually, I lie. It was component -> RF modulator -> coax -> TV. And it was still usable.
  • Reply 11 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jpennington

    Most people that would spend $799 on a macmini, plus $900 for a firewire drive (1TB, a minimum for someone interesting is going all digital) is going to have a high end TV.



    Unless of course they don't, and are looking to upgrade in stages.



    *raises hand*



    Telling them that it's all or nothing is pretty short sighted.



    "Oh no, to use that mini, you're going to have to buy a several thousand dollar display. What? You already have a 42" rear-projection unit? Oh but that's so *passe*! You have to *upgrade*! What would the *neighbors* think??"









    gdconway: for media, what you have is fine. As you already suspected, general computing on it isn't going to be spectacular unless you have a digital input. The mini has an assortment of digital and analog output choices for you to choose from for what best meets your needs, however, and since it sounds like you're expecting to use it primarily as a media server, I think it'd be just fine.
  • Reply 12 of 34
    Sorry about the apostrophes, I didn't think I needed to proofread on a forum.



    Alright, go for it. Buy a mac-mini and use a composite output. Just be warned the quality it not going to be like it when the computer is plugged into a monitor.



    Why buy in stages? Why not just wait until you have enough for it all, that way when someone doesn't work right in the end you are stuck with everything.



    Someone go hook up their laptop to a TV via a composite output and let me know how it looks. Also remember that if the quality isn't equal or better than DVD you will just use DVD and your blurry mac-mini solution will not be used.



    People always talk about "upgrading", it might be cool, but if sound and video quality isn't equal to your current setup it is downgrading.



    Yes, me saying it would be a waste of time was a bit over the top, but I don't want to see him end with something he doesn't use and selling it on eBay.
  • Reply 13 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Except that if the quality *matches* his current display, how is anything being downgraded? He certainly can't do any *better* than his display, but that wasn't the part he was replacing.



    It's difficult to get much better than a mini for a relatively inexpensive media box that *can* do all digital - but it's sheer silliness IMO to tell him to stay away from it until his display is upgraded to match. Obviously, his current display is fine for his needs.



    Now, if he was looking at buying a box that couldn't *meet* his display, I'd recommend he consider purchasing a better media box... but that isn't the case. The mini will do the best his current display can do, and is ready for his next display purchase as well, on his own schedule, on his own budget. No brainer.



    I also can't imagine that most people have enough disposable income to upgrade everything at once en masse, but looking at your .sig, I guess that you don't have that problem.
  • Reply 14 of 34
    chuckerchucker Posts: 5,089member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jpennington

    Sorry about the apostrophes, I didn't think I needed to proofread on a forum.



    No, you don't. But if you are interested in people actually reading your posts and taking them seriously, then yes, proof-reading is going to help an awful lot.



    Quote:

    Why buy in stages? Why not just wait until you have enough for it all, that way when someone doesn't work right in the end you are stuck with everything.



    Eh? If you buy a 250 GB drive, you pay a fraction of the amount, and you'll easily see if the setup is good enough for you, and then you can still upgrade to a bigger drive if need be.
  • Reply 15 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Kickaha

    Except that if the quality *matches* his current display, how is anything being downgraded? He certainly can't do any *better* than his display, but that wasn't the part he was replacing.



    It's difficult to get much better than a mini for a relatively inexpensive media box that *can* do all digital - but it's sheer silliness IMO to tell him to stay away from it until his display is upgraded to match. Obviously, his current display is fine for his needs.



    Now, if he was looking at buying a box that couldn't *meet* his display, I'd recommend he consider purchasing a better media box... but that isn't the case. The mini will do the best his current display can do, and is ready for his next display purchase as well, on his own schedule, on his own budget. No brainer.



    I also can't imagine that most people have enough disposable income to upgrade everything at once en masse, but looking at your .sig, I guess that you don't have that problem.




    I don't think you get what I am saying. If he goes with a composite output, the quality will be worse. It will work, but the quality will not be perfect. If you want, tell me what resolution and refresh you want me to set my laptop at and I will go plug it into a composite input on a TV and take pictures.
  • Reply 16 of 34
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Chucker

    No, you don't. But if you are interested in people actually reading your posts and taking them seriously, then yes, proof-reading is going to help an awful lot.





    I don't care if you take me seriously or read my posts, this is a just forum, no one should be taking anything "seriously".



    Quote:



    Eh? If you buy a 250 GB drive, you pay a fraction of the amount, and you'll easily see if the setup is good enough for you, and then you can still upgrade to a bigger drive if need be.




    Thats true, you could.
  • Reply 17 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by jpennington

    I don't think you get what I am saying. If he goes with a composite output, the quality will be worse. It will work, but the quality will not be perfect.



    No, but if it the best option his display has as input, then it will be the best his display can do. That's the entire point. If he matches the top quality input for his current display, then it doesn't matter if it is HDMI or old 75Ohm coax, nothing is being *lost* from the viewpoint of the display.



    The mini can adapt as he upgrades the display. Advising a hold off until he can afford a new display just to get the mini is just bizarre.



    Quote:

    If you want, tell me what resolution and refresh you want me to set my laptop at and I will go plug it into a composite input on a TV and take pictures.



    And the point of that would be... what exactly? Or did you miss my posts above stating that I have run a PowerBook in exactly that manner?



    My current TV has S-video, so I use that from the PowerBook and yes, it is better than composite... but that's the limitation of the *display*, not the laptop.



    Ditto for the mini - if he already has the display, and is happy with it, and is looking to buy a mini, he just has to mate the mini to the best quality input on his display, and voila. He's still operating at the best his display, which he is happy with, can do. No downgrading of his display.



    Is he taking advantage of every last bit of goodness out of the mini? No, of course not - but the mini is the cheap item to add to the system to get a large boost in functionality, while the display is the much more expensive component to replace to add quality, but not functionality.



    He is looking to add functionality. Quality can come in pieces, as desired.
  • Reply 18 of 34
    Are you telling me that I can plug my computer into the TV via s-video, play a DVD and get the same quality are playing the same DVD in a standard DVD player?
  • Reply 19 of 34
    kickahakickaha Posts: 8,760member
    Given the same video connectors, the same DVD hardware, the same cables, yes.



    I have a cheap little $30 DVD player I picked up a couple years ago. My PowerBook offers *better* quality over S-video than the DVD player does over S-video.



    Is the laptop going to offer the same quality as a high-end top of the line DVD player over S-video? Not likely. But that's the difference in the player, not the connection.
  • Reply 20 of 34
    If he is considering over a thousand for a mini for his living room and has a big TV, I'm sure he has a relatively nice DVD player.



    Here, I will put it in the form of a question ...



    Will a mac-mini with a s-video output offer the same quality when playing a DVD as the same DVD on a standard (not high end, not low end) DVD player?
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